34th Freccia dei Vini / Memorial Luigi Raffele:
The 1.2-ranked Freccia dei Vini, one of most challenging contests on the Italian and International cycling scene reserved for Under 23 and Elite-2 riders, going from the plains of southwestern Lombardy to the hills of Oltrepˇ Pavese, with seven of them, more or less steepy, to be tackled in the heat of an Italian midsummer afternoon, took place Sunday, July 03rd. The race, so difficult that no more than nineteen riders managed to cross the line, saw Italian Maurizio Bellin of the Podenzano-Italfine-Brunero as winner in a two-man sprint over GS Vitali's Alberto Milani. Report and full results can be found in this article
. But as words were not enough to capture the "essence" of the Freccia, here's the result of our photo safari from Vigevano's wonderful Piazza Ducale (Ducale Square)
to the town of Broni.
Thirteen different teams, with contenders from Italy,
Switzerland, Hungary, Russia etc. lined up for the
start of the 34th Freccia dei Vini in the magnificent
scenery of Vigevano's medieval Ducale Square in a
damn caliente Sunday morning in early July.
And we were there (with our 2004 race photo gallery) too!
Another look at Piazza Ducale
and its Duomo (Cathedral).
The "Home Team" Viris Vigevano-Isauto
with legendary coach Leonardo Pirro.
Virýs' appointed leader for the race, Russian
Denis Sosnvochenko, minutes before the Freccia kickoff.
A legend of the Italian Elite-2 cycling: Ernesto Riboldi
of the Sicilian Ciclo Team, 49 (50 in late October) and still running!
More from the Ciclo Team Mondello squad: Gaetano Martinello.
Pagnoncelli's Gianmario Pedrazzini.
Fast Gianluca Massano (born in November 1983)
of the mighty Podenzano-Italfine.
Andrea Tombolato (GS Vitali).
Four bike-eteers from Swiss Team Fidibc.com lined up on the startline.
And so did the "orange warriors" of Ceramiche Pagnoncelli NGC Perrel,
one of Italy's best-known squads on the Elite-2/U23 scene.
... and the Pool Cant¨ 1999 boys ...
... and the Hungarian boys of Nivo Betona Ezpressz 2000,
who gave the Freccia a more "exotic" flavour.
Some twenty minutes past midday, the 34th Freccia dei Vini
got underway in one of the nicest possible sceneries.
Viris Vigevano's Ralf Malosti keeps an eye on his fellow escapees as he wins the first of two laps of the opening urban circuit.
While the Hungarians and Pagnoncellis lead the bunch.
After traversing Vigevano and the Lomellina area flatlands,
the race made it to Italy's largest river, the PO river.
The pack crossing the Po river bridge at Casei Gerola.
The Pack and the Bridge - Part Two.
More from the peloton entering hilly Oltrep˛ Pavese.
Whose landscapes stole the show
in the second half of the race.
This little church was atop the first ascent of the day, Oliva Gessi.
Which started making the damage on the bunch
and their legs. Here's the "main group" over there.
And here's a few riders getting dropped quite early.
The frontrunners reached the summit!
Now there's just ... six more ascents to go.
Some orange and blue inside the pack.
Virismen struggling on the Oliva Gessi slopes.
Gimme that number! All those getting dropped big style in the first
ascent(s) had no chances to finish within time limit,
and unfortunately had to give up the fight.
Yeah, folks, this is a TOUGH race!
And that's one the factors making it tough: the Muro of Donelasco,
an ascent of just some 1,000m, but whose max. gradient is around 20%
A "front view" of fhe same Muur.
No kidding there, the boys had to ride their legs off for real!
More guys struggling on the Muro.
Struggling on the Muro. The Hungarian way.
Struggling on the Muro, the Viris Vigevano (precisely Luca Santimaria) way.
Simone Meda was on a solo lead on the previous climbs. But the
Podenzano rider was caught, and is now paying the price of his earlier efforts.
The same goes for Pagnoncelli's Enrico Rossi,
earlier trying to close down the gap to Meda,
but now having a hard time at Donelasco.
Hungarian Abos Haldzer was last on the Muro slopes. But not giving up.
Riders finally got to the summit of the Muur.
More guys crossing the Donelasco Gran Premio della Montagna line.
After climbing one more hill, what was left of the pack
made it to Broni for two laps of the final circuit.
With Bellin, Milani, Tizza, Colombo and Wyss in the winning break.
Photographing the photographer: photo wizard Gianfranco Soncini
giving orders while waiting for sprint.
And the sprint came: it's Maurizio Bellin v. Alberto Milani ...
... AND BELLIN WINS!!!
The brand new champion takes a break before the award ceremony.
Miss Padania Laura Albertin on the podium before giving proper reward to the winner.
More from ... Natural Blonde (!?!?!?) Laura.
Let the ceremony begin! Laura Albertin, Maurizio Bellin on da podium.
HERE PLEASE, HERE!!
Seven climbs, more than 170 kms, and temperatures well over 30░C.
But it was worth the effort, wasn't it?
HRUMPF! What's happening over there?
Oh, it's Bellin having a fight with the winner's red jersey!
It looks like Maurizio Bellin is winning also this fight,
while as third place >finisher Marcel Wyss is casting
a glance at what might have been on his shoulders.
His Maglia Rossa finally on, Bellin can devote himself
to the interview side of the matter.
While Bellin was all smiles all the time, runner-up
Alberto Milani was visibly upset at missing victory by a whisker.
A close view of the winning trio. L to R: Milani, Bellin and Wyss the Swiss.
Our last look at the podium. That's all for the 2005 Freccia dei Vini.
Hope you enjoyed our photo safari. See ya next year!